Dacula High School
123 Broad Street; Dacula, GA 30019
Years Principal 1974–1981 Robert F. Cooper, Jr. 1981–1987 Amon Lawrence 1988–2000 Dolford Layson 2000–March 2012 Donald Nutt April 2012–Present Dr. Bryan Long
School Colors: Blue and Gold
School Mascot: Falcon
Board of Trustees
J. Lee Freeman
Otho J. Pharr
Leonard O. Hinton
Dr. Will T. Hinton
Berner F. Wilson
John G. Hood
Luke C. Kilgore
Dedication Date: 1946
Writing history is one of the most important jobs of mankind. It is the best way to pass on what really happened to future generations. The problem one encounters is researching history is that some things were not recorded leaving a lot to speculation. This document was written in good faith in order to present an accurate description of the history of the Dacula Schools.
The community of Dacula actually began as “Feemantown” and was located near the corner of Fence and Dacula roads. The city of Dacula was founded along the Seaboard Railroad in 1891 where it is located today. The town was located to its present site due to the construction of the Seaboard Railroad. The contractors selected it as a temporary camp. It was originally know as Hoke or Hoke Town. A post office was established in this name to honor a railroad official. Ultimately the railroad refused to have the town continue under that name. John W. Freeman, the first postmaster, suggested the name of “Dacula” as a combination of ‘Decatur” and “Atlanta” and that name stuck.
Mr. J. W. Hamilton, born in Gwinnett County on November 7, 1847, was the first settler of the town. He built the first house, a small wooden building, in 1891, around which Dacula developed.
Dr. Samuel L. Hinton was the town physician and owned the first drug store in town. The original building has been restored and is located one block from the present Dacula Middle School. After his death in 1918, Dr. William T. Hinton and Dr. Benjamin V. Wilson assumed the duties of caring for the citizens of the town.
In 1905, Dacula was incorporated with Dr. Samuel L. Hinton as its first mayor. Since that time the following citizens have been mayor: A.M. Wilson, L.C. Mauldin, Beverly Ambrose, G.F. Pharr, K. E. Taylor, Claude Hinton, Otho Pharr, J. W. Hamilton, Taylor Whitley, Claude Halcomb, Reid Miller and Jimmy Wilbanks.
The highway from Athens was graded near the railroad in 1928 and paved in 1931.
Due to limited transportation and lack of general funding from the state and county, many community schools sprang up wherever there was a small population of people. The Dacula Area was no different to any other area of rural Georgia. Several community or small schools fed the Dacula Area Schools.
Where a community begins, a school will soon follow. The Chinquapin Grove School was the only school in the area until the Dacula Public School was built. It was named after the Chinquapin bush, a wild growing bush that produced a fruit similar to a chestnut. It was located on the corner of Fence and Dacula Roads near “Freemantown.” The Post Office is located on this site today.
The first Dacula School house dates back to 1892 when a small two-story building was erected somewhere on the present site of the Dacula Middle School. Dr. Samuel H. Freeman donated the plot. Ms. Davis was the first teacher of the school. In 1894 Mr. W. H. Thomas became the teacher, and the following year he married Miss Etheridge who became his assistant. For a number of years this same building was used with the following teachers: Mr. Harrison, Mr. Weyman Bell, Mr. John Mahaffey, and Mr. Jim Jones, his efficient assistant was formerly Birdie Wood, now Mrs. J. H. Hamilton. A new room was added to the building during this time and many noble teachers did splendid work during those pioneer days, some of which were Mr. Will McConnell, Mr. Horton, Mr. Callaway, Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Coggins, Mrs. W. T. Hinton, Mrs. Henry Rawlins, Mrs. Harlan Edmonds, Oscar Smith, John Barber, J. D. Self, and Mr. And Mrs. K. E. Taylor.
In 1910, a brick structure was built as a result of a community effort under the direction of the local school board. The product was a two-story edifice with six rooms and an auditorium. It contained two cloakrooms, two toilets and a bell tower. Water was obtained from a well with ample playground area. Professors Brookshire, Cloy Wilbanks, Cochran, Edwards, Floyd served as principals. During these years there were several graduating classes. Two years six girls graduated while another year six boys graduated. Then for a period of time due to lack of certain requirements the school went no farther than the tenth grade.
In the year 1921-22, Miss Daisy Williams Craig was teacher and principal of the school. The teachers were as follows: 1st and 2nd Grade Miss Neice Edmonds, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers: Miss Una Hinton and Miss Ruth Grace Hood, Upper grades Mrs. Lamar Hood.
The 1923 report of Gwinnett County Schools listed Mr. J. M. Cochrane as Principal, and Miss Lucile Wilson, Miss Daisy Keown, Miss Una Hinton, and Miss Cassie Tanner as teachers. Enrollment was 164 students in 10 grades. The school’s equipment inventory consisted of double patent desks, half dozen maps, two dictionaries, one chart, some pictures, an encyclopedia, and no globes. The school was valued at $10,000 according to the report.
There were 10 feeder schools that eventually contributed students to the Dacula School. The following schools were listed in the 1923 report of the Gwinnett County Public School System: Alcova School located 2 miles south of Dacula, Oak Grove located 4 miles south, Carters Academy located 7 miles southwest of Dacula, Lowery’s Academy located 9 miles south of Dacula, Rock Springs Hotel located 1½ miles southeast of Dacula, Liberty located 3½ miles northeast of Dacula, Rabbitt Hill located 3½ miles northwest of Dacula, Hog Mountain located 8 miles northwest of Dacula, Duncan’s Creek located 10 miles northeast of Dacula, and Sweetgum located 4 miles west of Dacula.
In 1931, Carter’s Academy, Lowery’s Academy, and Alcova were consolidated into the Oak Grove School. From then on it was known as Harbins Consolidated School. Also closing in 1938 were the Liberty and Sweetgum schools. The closing of these one- and two-room community schools caused an increase in enrollment in 1938.
Also, in 1931, the first metal school bus was owned and driven by James Williams.
The county paid him to transport students.
In 1931, the elementary department became standardized. During this year, under Mr. Davidson’s leadership, the school became accredited. The school averaged 25 graduates per year. Professors Davidson and H.J.B. Turner were privileged to see many indications of progress in the school. Literary and athletic honors were won for the school at district meets. Mr. Frank Cain followed Mr. Turner as principal for two years.
Mrs. T. J. Sammon began a lunchroom project and a large gymnasium was built during the 1930’s.
In 1931, a high school building was constructed on the present site. The county, as well as the local School Board, funded this building. The school also received benefits of the recovery from the Great Depression. In 1938, the granite Vocational and Agriculture building was constructed by the National Youth Association. Students were employed for $5 dollars a week to assist with the construction. It was told that many of the students were basketball players from the 1938 State Championship team. However, they rarely ever showed up for the actual work. This building housed a canning plant and was used by the community until it was condemned in the 1970s. It was the modern day version of a vocational-technical school. With the popularity of the automobile, another structure was added to be used as a classroom/mechanics garage. The garage or basement portion was converted to a potato-curing house during World War II.
Victor Knight became principal in 1943. A tragic event happened during the spring of 1944 when the two academic buildings were destroyed by fire. It was a great disappointment for the seniors of 1944 as it was just month before their graduation. However, the Dacula community pulled together once again to hold classes in the vocational building, lunchroom, and the garage. Classes also were held in the First Methodist Church and in a building downtown. The building is presently TannerFord Hardware.
The building committee members, Dr. W.T. Hinton, Claude Hinton, B. F. Wilson, J. G. Hood, Luke Kilgore, and Reese Mauldin together with the community floated school bonds to build the new facility. United States Senator Richard Russell helped secure some federal money for the building.
The new building was reconstructed in 1946. An open house was held at the $90,000 new building in the fall of 1946. Afterwards, a new lunchroom and a home for the principal were added. The building was incorporated into what is today the Dacula Middle School.
In 1945, the undefeated boy’s basketball team won the state championship again. They had to practice on a dirt floor because Mr. H.J. B. Turner had ordered the old gymnasium to be torn down in order to build a new one. Because of the conditions of the dirt court, their basketball was not adequate to take to the tournament, so the ball of Billy Archer was used. Team members were Julian Archer, Marlin Wages, Lonnie Etheridge, Roy Etheridge, and J.B. Gilbert. Mr. Knight was the coach. In 1946 through the cooperation of the entire community a new $10,000 gymnasium was completed.
During these years, many trustees worked for the progress of the school. Some of these were: Dr. S.L. Hinton, J. W. Wilson, J. B. Freeman, N. G. Pharr, Eli Pharr, Dr. B. V. Wilson, J. M. Stanley, R. E. Hill, J. L. Bernard, J, G, Hood, O. N. Pharr, Hawley Cook, L. M. Knight, J. F. Nash, S. M. Edmonds, J.L. Freeman, O.J. Pharr, L.O. Hinton, O. I. Shipley, and Calvin Burel.
During the 1950s some of the teachers who worked with Mr. Knight were: Mrs. Knight, Edwin Lovin, Betty Thrasher, Odessa Tanner, Ruth Hood, Mrs. E. M. Adams, Nell Venable, Pinkie Whitehead, Dora Mae Elliott, Miriam Wood, Harvey Davis, Blanche Wilbanks, B.V. Archer, Ollie Mae Hayes, Louise Hutchins, and Dewey Etheridge. In 1954, the girls’ basketball won the state championship. The school also went to 12 grades that same year in order to comply with state standards.
Within the two-year period of 1957 and 1958, the Harbins Elementary School was consolidated with Dacula. Also at this time, a court battle ensued to prevent Dacula High School from consolidating with Central Gwinnett High as one of the four proposed consolidated high schools in Gwinnett County. The county lost the battle after much community protest and the Dacula schools remained intact.
In 1957, Carson Britt became principal and served the community through the school term 1964-65. Some of the teachers who worked with Mr. Britt were: B.V. Archer, David I Barron, Frank Cain, Fred Norman, Allen Lester, Ina Wilbanks, Maud Hodges, Odessa Tanner, H. L. Garland, Rebecca Adams, Lee Webb, Joel Shirley, Gayle Phillips, Croff Denny, James Stephens, Albert Colwell, Betty Shirley, Carl Simmons, Neil Park, Robert Carver, J.W. Bush, Loyd P. Wood, Bethel Harris, Williams Balwin, James Buskirk, Elizabeth Adams, and Bob Beiser.
In 1960, a new building was erected as a parallel structure behind the original that was built in 1946. This new addition included five classrooms and a home economics suite. As the school population increased in 1964, three classrooms, a library, a typing room, a science lab, and an extensive office suite were added to the structure completed in 1960. This facility housed grades eight through twelve.
In 1965-66, Rex Cassidy became principal of Dacula High and Elementary School. He served as principal through 1969-70. Under his administration, the position of assistant principal was added. These assistant principals included: Donald Loggins, Reid Mullins, and Ronald Wheeles. Some of the teachers who worked with Mr. Cassidy were: Ina Wilbanks, Katherine Blount, Laodcie Burt, Donald Hughes, Myron Bullock, Rita Klee, Charles Todd, Anne Kerr, George Disney, Carolyn Boaz, Williams Grimm, Judy Guest, Margaret Loggins, Cheryl Davis, Edith Hall, Ray Ezell, Brenda Winchester, Leamon Davidson, William Hanley, Frances Wilson, and Judy Davidson. In 1965, Barron Field (Football Stadium) was dedicated to honor D. I. “Red” Barron, who organized Dacula’s first varsity football program.
In 1970-71, under the administration of Robert F. Cooper, Jr., a new gymnasium was constructed on the future site of the Dacula High School. During the school year 1973-74, a new high school facility was completed at 123 Broad Street.
Dacula School remained as one-school with grades 1-12 on the same campus until 1974.
On February 1, 1974 the Dacula High School separated from the Dacula Elementary School. This was the end of the one campus school in Gwinnett County. The new high school facility, located a 123 Broad Street, Dacula, housed grades eight through twelve. Robert F. Cooper Jr., who had been principal of Dacula School since 1970, continued to serve as principal of the high school until 1981.
During the administration of Mr. Cooper, a new football stadium was constructed along with a new track. Throughout the years of Dacula School and Dacula High School, the students continued to keep the same mascot, the Falcon, but the colors changes from royal blue and Old English gold to navy blue and gold. In 1979, when Dacula Middle School came into being, the eighth grade became a part of the middle school while the high school served grades nine through twelve. Kitchen facilities were added in 1980 thus ended a satellite lunch program that had operated from Dacula Elementary School. Also in 1979 the Men’s basketball team added another State championship to the school’s trophy case.
From 1981 until 1987, Amon F. “Bubba” Lawrence served as principal of Dacula High. While Mr. Lawrence was principal, a new field house for football and weight training was constructed.
The school year 1987-88 brought a change in administration with Dolford Layson as principal. Schools goals in 1987 were threefold: to improve the internal and external climate of the school, to improve the self-esteem and self-confidence of the students, and to increase attendance. Students were encouraged to accept the challenges of a more advanced, diversified curriculum. Faculty and staff were encouraged to make efforts to ensure proper placement of students and to provide additional assistance and instruction if needed. Students at all levels of achievement were recognized and honored for outstanding accomplishments.
A comprehensive and diversified activities program was implemented, including both curricular and extracurricular. Students were encouraged to become actively involved in clubs, organizations, and teams. A new attitude was starting to emerge. Athletic, fine arts, and literary teams started to make their place at regional, state, and national levels, and Dacula High School was selected as Gwinnett County’s High School of the Year.
As Dacula High school reflected upon the accomplishments of the 1988-89 year school year, impressive academic performances of all students, the tremendous records of athletic teams and the excellent performance of the fine arts and literary teams made for a very exciting and rewarding year. The sweeping changes that were brought about by the building program would help continue the good things already in place. During the 1988-89 school years, the average SAT score was the highest in Gwinnett County and well above the national average. Twentyfive percent of the graduating class graduated with honors. The athletic program in 1988-89 enjoyed phenomenal success. Teams in all major sports, football (12-2), basketball (21-8), and baseball (23-6) made appearances in the state playoffs. This was the first time any Gwinnett high school could make such a claim. Literary and fine arts continued their reputation for “superiority,” placing high at regional, state, and national tournaments.
Working with Mr. Layson since 1987 were Martha Wiggins, assistant principal; Michael Strickland, administrative assistant; Brenda Bigham counselor; and Ron Wheeles, community school director. In 1989, a massive building program began, expanding facilities to meet the needs of the students. In 1991, the school was expanded to a capacity of 625 students with the addition of 11 new classrooms.
In 1995, a baseball/softball complex was added to the Falcon sports facility. Until this time, the teams used what is now the recreation park or the middle school for practice or games. It is one of the finest complexes in the county to date. Also in 1995, the wrestlers were crowned state champions of Class A. The old Pehlam Garment manufacturing plant was converted into an 18,000 square foot athletic training facility. This facility houses two weight rooms and can accommodate 15 classes per day.
When school opened in the fall of 1997 it had been expanded to house 1,375 students. Due to extremely rapid growth in the community portable trailers were added to accommodate the students. By 2004, over 90 of these units were needed to house the 3,000 students enrolled in Dacula High School.
In 2000, a new 2,300 seat gymnasium was added to the campus. All State Champion basketball teams were honored at the dedication ceremony. In 2001, the old athletic field house was transformed into a beautiful 5,000 square foot wrestling facility. In 2003, Barron Field was expanded to offer 8,500 seats along with a 50-foot press box for the home team. In 2007, a 61-classroom addition opened and a new theater was added and in 2009 the school received a new field house.
Throughout the years, Dacula High School always has been a great place to be. The community has been the backbone of the school. Although the community has changed greatly in recent years it is still committed to supporting the school. It is still the best place to be in the community where everyone is “Focused on Learning”.
That focus on learning and on transforming teaching and learning has benefited the students of the Dacula community in a number of ways. In fact, in 2015 the Dacula Cluster— led by Dacula High School— was the recipient of the school system’s inaugural Innovation and Transformation Award which recognized schools that excelled in the adoption and implementation of eCLASS and other innovative instructional strategies. The Dacula Cluster was chosen as a cluster that modeled how eCLASS can and should be used in schools. As a cluster, the Dacula schools were not just aware of eCLASS as an initiative… or saw it as something “to try” in classrooms here and there… but believed in the power of eCLASS and championed it in every school. Dacula High School’s commitment to using technology to transform learning ensures that students and teachers have the digital tools they need to excel. Through technology, the school is making education more relevant and engaging through personalization, helping improve graduation rates and increase student achievement.